With a number of new releases on the horizon, twenty-four year old Brett Ewels, aka Louis La Roche, has an exciting few months ahead. The nu-disco producer/DJ caught up with EARMILK for a quick interview, and filled us in on everything from his earliest musical influences to the creative process behind his Scenery mixtape series, the final instalment of which is available for download today.
EARMILK: You got your start at the young age of 17 – did you always know that producing was for you?
LOUIS LA ROCHE: I knew that I wanted to do something within music from a young age but never thought I'd end up producing. Drums, guitar and bass playing were all phases that came and went, I bought my first pair of turntables at 12.
I was listening to dance music and hip hop from the start, after I bought the turntables it made me look into old vinyl records and so I started playing around with samples on my brothers 8-track recorder.
I didn't start using music software until 14 and I created Louis La Roche at 17.
EM: The name Louis La Roche fits well with your French touch influence – how did you come up with it?
LLR: Once I learnt the basics of production, I tried making House music. House was the music I grew up on. It's only when I started downloading music that I realised I loved a sub genre called 'French House'.
It played a big part in developing my sound. It was in my blood, House music was French to me. Especially my first EP called 'The Peach EP'. Since then I guess I've gone deeper into the Nu Disco sound.
EM: Can you explain the creative process behind the “Scenery” series? Why did you go without a tracklist, and what made you decide to end it?
LLR: I think technology has made it easier to write songs for any type of musician. You no longer need a studio or to spend a lot of money. It's more accessible, which makes work flow a lot faster. I write music nearly everyday so I end up with hard drives full of unfinished music.
The idea behind Scenery was to create a mixtape that showcased all the music I'm proud to have made but didn't quite 'fit the mould' of the music I was releasing at the time. Whether that be due to the genre being too different, samples I couldn't clear or purely the fact that I just unable finish it.
My influences definitely show in the mixtape. DJ Shadow, The Avalanches, J Dilla, they've all done what I have before me. Songs made from obscure vinyl, a mash of different styles and genres in one long soundtrack.
Some of the songs included on the tape were meant to be on an album I made which never got released. Scenery made it possible for those songs to finally be heard.
I ended up sampling old Soul records, Funk, Disco, and Jazz. I sampled Mariah Carey, Scatman John, and a Michael Jackson clone from the 1980s! Why? Why not?
I think the reason behind the 'no tracklisting allowed' is just that it forces the listener to hear each part as a complete piece of music. I tried to avoid people skipping forward out of boredom but at the same time, wanting them to skip back if there's a track they love.
That's why I included the quotes/talking in-between every song. Not only does it bring a comedy factor to the tape but it makes you wonder what else is going to be said. I sampled interviews and movie quotes from The Beatles, Frank Zappa, Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Jimi Hendrix, Stephen Hawkins and Tom Hanks. Most of which talk about music, feelings or are just random.
Parts 1-3 were made and released in 2011. One on the 1st of each month. Originally I planned to just do a trilogy but I found myself saying 'this track would have been perfect for Scenery' so a year later, I made a 4th. Part 5 came out 2013 and now I'm ending it with part 6 this year.
It's good to quit while you're ahead. I can't do Scenery forever…The journey has to end somewhere!
EM: Who were your earliest inspirations and influences musically?
LLR: The 90's were full of the 'French Touch' sound. Cassius, Daft Punk, Air, Stardust, Modjo, even Armand Van Helden and Basement Jaxx sounded French. They definitely influenced me.
I'm also a huge Michael Jackson & Prince fan. I was born in 1990, but 80's music production speaks to me a lot more. Drum machines, guitars and synths, the perfect combination.
EM: You’ve successfully remixed artists from Speech Debelle to Kate Bush – how do you decide which songs to rework?
LLR: Some are official remixes, which means the artist has asked me to remix them. I'm never picky when it comes to remixes, as long as the original is well produced and has a good vocal.
I like to remix the songs how I hear them in my head. Sometimes I deliver a remix that isn't what they expected in terms of genre. Genre doesn't really matter to me, I just try to get the best of the song. I'm forever changing but I'll always stay funky.
The unofficial bootlegs I do for fun are usually taboo artists and songs that people feel should never be touched. I either turn shit into gold or take a classic in a direction you might not have thought about.
EM: Disco is back in a big way – how do you feel about the revival, and which artists do you think are doing it the best?
LLR: Disco never died really. Nu Disco has always been around.
I think it's still the same names that were doing it back in 2008. Aeroplane, Todd Terje, Tensnake, Lifelike. It's more 80's than ever and I love that.
New-ish names that I love are Luke Million (The Swiss), Cassian, Plastic Plates, Oliver. We're all white guys doing black music though. I which we could see a black Nu Disco group, like a modern Chic.
EM: Who are your top three favorite artists, dead or alive?
LLR: Michael Jackson, Daft Punk and Stevie Wonder.
I would say The Beatles too but that's a bit like saying "I like being able to breathe". You can't not like The Beatles.
EM: Do you have plans for a North American tour at any point in the near future?
LLR: I've wanted to for years. The problem I find is that if you're gonna tour, especially in America, you need to promote something. The shows just wouldn't be good enough. If I flew out tomorrow, I'd only have my back catalogue to promote. I guess I downplay my music a lot. The timing just isn't right. I do love American fans, the best in the world! Wait until my album…then we'll see.
EM: Any exciting new projects coming up that you’d like to share?
LLR: I have a lot of new releases planned!!
Two singles on independent labels. A track called 'Offline' and another called 'The Receiver'. Two EP's that will come out my own label Ever After. Finally, I've completed an album that I'm looking to sign to a label. It's straight up Disco, it's gonna surprise a lot of people.
I've been without a management company for 6 months but this is possibly the most amount of music I've ever had coming out!
Give Scenery Mixtape Part 6 (THE END) a listen below.